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How to Handicap College Football Bowl Games: NCAAF Betting Guide

Wondering how to bet on college football bowl games? Check out our guide.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, not the holidays. Well, yes, the holidays too, but more importantly, college football bowl season.

Sure, I love me some regular-season football but there’s something special about bumming around in a onesie snowed under or iced in on lazy days, eating all the food, drinking all the drink and watching college football. Since we’re in a pandemic, it’s not like we can do much of anything else anyway.

2020 has been odd, to say the least, but bowl games are scheduled to start Monday, December 21, and continue through to the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday, January 11.

championship trophy shaped as a football

Bowl Season is here

Check out all of Odds Shark's exclusive betting content for every college bowl game!

Go to the bowl season hub

With COVID-19 affecting multiple games throughout the season, keep an eye out for changes that may occur. There have already been plenty. As of December 16, six bowl games have been canceled, multiple teams have opted out from playing the postseason and we are sure to have more.

Here are some tips and trends to help steer you in the right direction.

Things to Look Out For in Bowl Game Bets

Player Injuries

There’s still some time until bowl games begin, leaving an unfortunate opportunity for injuries to occur. Before placing a wager, check Odds Shark’s injury report on a specific game’s matchup page to make sure there haven’t been any recent injuries to key players.

One example could be Oklahoma wide receiver Marvin Mims, who was taken to the locker room during the Week 14 matchup against Baylor. You’ll want to check sites like Rotoworld that offer player injury updates, news and notes for all the college football conferences.

Coaches Leaving, Players Opting Out

Handicapping bowl games can be tough this time of year because of changes in personnel and players opting to sit. If a coach has had a great season, he may end up being snagged by another school. One example is Oklahoma assistant head coach Shane Beamer, who has agreed to a deal to become the South Carolina Gamecocks’ next head football coach. Perhaps the departure of an assistant head coach doesn’t have a direct impact but now is the time of year we see hires and fires. How do coaching changes impact the players? It’s something to consider.

It’s also the time of year that players opt to sit out of bowl games if they plan to make a run at getting picked up in the NFL. Familiar names from the past who’ve done this include LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey. Keep a lookout as the game you’re targeting approaches.


It happens. It’s something you definitely don’t handicap for, so just do a quick search beforehand to confirm that no sudden suspensions have occurred. Last season, four Nevada players were issued suspensions after a fight following a loss to UNLV. The year prior, players from Alabama and Clemson were dealt one-year suspensions after failing a drug test.


As always, trends aren’t a be-all and end-all of information but they can help you finalize a play or at least help keep you off a game. Here are some trends to consider before placing your bets.

Best Tip

There are a million ways to handicap bowl games, but make sure to also look at the weather. Not every game is in a sunny place like Florida or the Bahamas (though they should be).

You could also consider motivation as a factor. Although there is no metric for motivation, you could go off the simple idea that this is a team’s first bowl and they’ll give it everything they’ve got. Or you could look at a team like Nevada who lost their big matchup to San Jose State to determine a title game spot.

And remember, the books are required to put a line on every single game but that does not mean you have to place a bet on every single game. Be selective and always remember to practice bankroll management. Football is almost over – let’s not go crazy with these last games of college football season.

For bowl-specific betting tips, follow my blog that I’ll be updating throughout bowl season.